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CdA will finally sing the blues

Curtis Salgado performs Saturday.  Courtesy of Curtis Salgado (Courtesy of Curtis Salgado)
Curtis Salgado performs Saturday. Courtesy of Curtis Salgado (Courtesy of Curtis Salgado)

Ritzville has one. Winthrop has one.

Yet some canny organizers realized that the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area was lacking a major blues festival of its own – until now.

The first Coeur d’Alene Blues Festival will fill the Coeur d’Alene Resort with the smoky sounds of some of the Northwest’s top blues bands this weekend.

The event has several main components:

• A Blues Cruise with the Fat Tones, one of Spokane’s best-regarded blues bands, tonight at 7:30 on Lake Coeur d’Alene (leaving from the resort docks).

• A four-band party beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday in the resort’s Convention Center. The bands include Spokane’s Big Mumbo Blues Band, Seattle’s Red Hot Blues Sisters and Randy Oxford Band, and veteran Portland bluesman Curtis Salgado.

Stages will be set up at either end of the spacious hall, so one band can be setting up while another is performing. Music will be continuous until 1 a.m.

• Nu Jack City, a local blues/R&B band, will play tonight and Saturday starting at 9 p.m. in the resort’s Shore Lounge (no cover charge).

• Soulful Blend, with Max Daniels, will perform at a gospel brunch from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday in the resort’s Dockside Restaurant (music free for brunch patrons).

The idea of a Coeur d’Alene Blues Festival first came up in 2007 when the resort hosted a Mardi Gras party with a blues flavor.

“It was cool – a really, really fun party,” said Craig Heimbigner, one of the festival’s organizers. “I wanted to bring back the idea, but even bigger.”

He booked some big-name Northwest blues acts, including Salgado, who has recovered from a bout of liver cancer. (Some of Salgado’s well-known friends – Steve Miller, Robert Cray and Taj Mahal – helped pay for his medical bills with a benefit concert.)

So now hundreds of blues fans will converge on the resort for a full weekend of music. Heimbigner already has dreams of turning it into an annual event, with multiple venues in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

“I would love to make this a greater blues festival, a way to bring in spring at the end of March,” he said.

Food and a bar will be available for Saturday night’s main event. And if you want to make it an entire weekend of blues, room packages are available through the resort (800-688-5253).